USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘cultural bias’
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Iranian “Turk” Jokes

  1. The main piece: Iranian “Turk” Jokes

“We have a lot of racist jokes. You know how some American jokes start with “a guy walks into a bar.” A lot of our jokes start with “what did the turk say” or “why did the Turk do this.” So there’s a region in Tehran, Tabriz, where there’s a lot of Turkish people, and they have a certain accent. So whenever we tell the Turk jokes, there’s a certain accent we use.”

  1. Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? The context of the performance?

“I mean, this is kind of embarrassing because it’s not the best portrayal of us. But it’s not like we really think this about Turks anymore, it’s just what the jokes have become and been for so long. Like dumb blonde jokes are still funny, even though we know blondes aren’t dumb. I’ve heard different family members and family friends tell these jokes at parties… I mean, they’re funny and remind me of jokes that people from my culture make.”

  1. Finally, your thoughts about the piece

This piece is a clear example of stereotyping and Blason Populaire in jokes. It utilizes a common cultural bias or stereotype about a group of people who are not originally from the area, showing that they are being jested at because they are “different” and they are the minority. Stereotype and Blason Populaire jokes, when not utilizing stereotypes about a group to itself (i.e. Turkish people telling Turk jokes) alienate the group of people being made fun of in the jokes, and perpetuate the cultural differences between the two groups.

       4. Informant Details

The informant is an 18-year old Iranian-Canadian female. She was born in Iran but moved to Canada as a young child, then moved again to southern California as a teenager. Learning about her parents’ Iranian culture helped her feel a sense of continuity throughout the different moving experiences she had. They also helped her feel more rooted and attached to her place of birth.

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